Circus World kicks off summer season
By Annie Getsinger
May 19, 2014
There were prancing ponies, appearing wagons and one tiny bicycle as Circus World Museum unveiled new shows and exhibits on its opening weekend.
“Actually everything’s been just very smooth,” longtime ringmaster Dave SaLoutos said. “All the acts are working great. The show looks fabulous.”
Opening weekend attracted varied crowds: Members of the animal-rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — one dressed as an elephant, according to witnesses — showed up outside of Circus World on Saturday morning to protest the use of animals in circus performances.
Meanwhile, the grounds were filled with Boy Scouts, who were camping at the Sauk County Fairgrounds for their Baraboo Circus Heritage weekend.
Boy Scout Anthony Malisch, 17, and his dad, Richard, have been coming to the event every spring for the past six years. They’ve visited the museum each time.
“It’s wonderful to see so many scouts together all having a good time and working with each other,” said Richard Malisch, of Madison.
The scouts tried out interactive exhibits, laughed at Roger the Clown’s new showcase, marveled at Tristan Crist’s magic act and gathered together under the big top.
“I guess it’s just a plan once a year to go to the circus, and this is it,” said Anthony Malisch, who said he enjoys the “spirit and the cheerfulness” of the museum.
“The entire show is new,” SaLoutos said of the big top performance, which includes an aerial act, juggling, ponies, unicycle tricks, a dog with a special talent for backflips and other feats.
Band director Larry Stout, Crist, Roger the Clown and SaLoutos are the show’s only returners from last year.
“The tent is great,” said SaLoutos. “It’s just the right atmosphere, you know. It makes you feel like you’re at a circus.”
The ringmaster said people seemed to be enjoying the new indoor attractions, too, especially the recently unveiled “Caught in the Act” interactive exhibit.
“Everybody is just really loving it,” SaLoutos said. “They step in it and they spend a lot of time there going through it all.”
“I love the historical stuff,” said Meagan Parrish of Madison, who brought her daughters to the museum along with some friends. “I wish they had costumes that adults could try on.”
Parrish said it was her family’s second time visiting the museum.
“It’s a fun place to come,” she said. “Kids love it.”
SaLoutos encouraged people to check out the new circus model, clown, wagon builder and ringmaster exhibits, too.
“If you’ve seen us before, come see us again because it’s all new,” he said.
Jed Crouse, who has been volunteering at the museum for about seven years, said the weather couldn’t have been nicer for opening day.
“This is by far the best weather we’ve had,” he said.
The Baraboo native said that he’s long been interested in circus life and used to frequent the museum on his summer vacations. Now he’s a regular fixture. Crouse said the chance to learn about circus history from the people who’ve lived it is a unique opportunity and one he treasures.
“I do magic and clowning as a hobby, so it always seemed fitting to come down here and volunteer my time,” he said.